The UK government is involved with financing overseas fossil fuel projects that when complete will produce an estimated 69 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year.
Last week (January 20) Boris Johnson declared that: ‘From today, the British government will no longer provide any new investment into trade promotion for thermal coal mining or power plants.’
However, an investigation by BBC’s Newsnight and Greenpeace Unearthed has revealed that the UK continues to invest in overseas fossil fuel projects and has potential plans for future coal investments.
The investments are backed by the government agency UK Export Finance (UKEF), who provide guarantees for loans to companies that are involved in global projects.
UKEF has provided these guarantees for 14 overseas fossil fuel projects with a collective investment of £6bn.
When completed, it is estimated that these projects will release 68.9 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. That is nearly a sixth of the total annual carbon emissions of the UK.
The largest project is an oil and gas exploration project in three offshore Brazillian basins.
Researchers at Unearthered also obtained the minutes of a conversation between the then trade secretary Liam Fox and Jean-Sebastian Jacques, the CEO of the mining company Rio Tinto.
In the minutes it is written that the UK will: ‘Re-state support for the (Oyu Tolgoi) project.’
Oyu Tolgoi is a mine located in the Mongolian Gobi Desert, close to the border of China, it is one of the largest known copper and gold mines in the world.
The mine is particularly controversial because there are plans to power the mine with a coal-fired power plant.
A spokesperson for the mine defended the development for its economic benefits, and also for its apparent environmental benefits, producing copper that will be needed to build wind turbines in the future.
In June last year, Environment Journal reported on data published by the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) which revealed that the UK government’s support for fossil fuel energy projects has increased eleven times over the past twelve months.
Photo Credit – Pixaby